Quick Note

30 09 2008

I’m currently at my parents’ house in my hometown preparing for the wedding which is next weekend… SO I probably won’t be posting anytime soon 😦  I will get back into it as soon as I have a free minute and I promise I’ve got some good stuff in the works!

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Four Foods on Friday (48)

26 09 2008

#1.  Melon. What’s your favorite kind?

Have to be honest, not a huge melon fan.  I’d have to go with watermelon if I absolutely had to choose.

#2.  Orange citrus. What’s your favorite – oranges, nectarines, navel oranges, tangerines, etc.

Mmm, oranges.  I especially love the smell of oranges and orange juice dripping down my chin.

#3.  Oreos. What kind is your favorite? (Don’t eat Oreos? What about olives?)

OMG I cannot tell you how much I LOVE Oreos.  Please see this post for details.  Oreos are my weakness, really they are.  If I had to choose between Oreos and my fiance, well I’d probably choose my fiance, but it would be a tough call.

#4.  Pot pie. Share a recipe. (No pot pie recipe? What about a casserole or some other hot meal you bake?)

I’ve never made a pot pie although my fiance has requested it.  Here’s a recipe for Chicken Divan that my mom makes.  I haven’t baked it in a long time, but this might be the inspiration I need.

Chicken Divan

Serves 8

Stuff you need:

  1. 4 or 5 chicken breasts, cooked and cut into chunks
  2. 2 bunches fresh broccoli, cooked crisp
  3. 1 1/2 c. mayo
  4. 1 1/2 tsp. lemon juice
  5. 3 cans cream of chicken mushroom soup
  6. 2-3 c. shredded cheddar cheese
  7. 2 c. Italian bread crumbs
  8. 2 Tbsp. melted butter

What to do with that stuff:

  1. Arrange broccoli in bottom of large baking dish.
  2. Place chicken pieces on top.
  3. Combine sauce ingredients and pour over top.
  4. Sprinkle with cheese.
  5. Combine bread crumbs and butter and sprinkle over dish.
  6. Bake uncovered 30 to 45 minutes at 350 degrees.

Source: [FF]





Chicken & Grapes with Creamy Mustard Sauce & Couscous

25 09 2008

It’s been a while, but I finally ventured back into my Rachel Ray 30 Minute Meals cookbooks.  Her recipes usually take me two or three tries before I get them just right.  It took me like 6 attempts of a mac and cheese recipe before I got the roux to where it really tasted good and not grainy or floury.  Quite a celebration followed that accomplishment.

While this recipe did not turn out perfectly, it did have good flavor and it’s fast.  The cookbook claimed it was a 15 minute meal (for real).  I have to admit that it was completely done and on the table in 20 minutes and I’m not kidding.  While I was standing at the stove waiting through the final simmer I seriously thought to myself, “Wow, I feel like I just started and I’m already done”.  It really is fast.  And it seems kinda fancy, at least compared to our typical meals of pasta and… pasta.

I think part of my problem this time was using a smooth mustard instead of a grainy, stone-ground mustard.  This is also my first time cooking with wine (gasp!  I know, I’m such a newbie), so I might not have allowed that to reduce as much as I should have.  Regardless, WF enjoyed it and I was pleased with myself.

Another first: making couscous.  WF really likes it and when he saw this on the recipe list, he got excited.  I’ve eaten couscous twice.  Once a coworker made it.  The second time was with WF: we ate couscous on a camping trip.  That’s about it.  I don’t dislike couscous, I think the texture is just different than what I am used to.  Making boxed couscous is super easy though.  I was surprised.  It sounds like it would be more difficult – ha.

So here’s a tasty, easy, and fast (for real) meal.

Chicken and Grapes with Creamy Mustard Sauce and Couscous

Serves 2

Stuff you need:

  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. butter, cut into pieces
  • 3 to 4 boneless, skinless chicken tenders
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/3 c. white wine
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 1/4 c. grainy stone-ground mustard (I used what we had on hand: hot and sweet deli mustard… we’re so gourmet around here)
  • 1 cup seedless red grapes, halved
  • 1 1/4 c. chicken broth
  • 1 box (5.7 oz.) couscous

What to do with that stuff:

  1. Place flour in a shallow bowl.
  2. Place a large skillet over medium to medium-high heat.
  3. Add 1 Tbsp. of olive oil and the butter to the skillet.
  4. Dredge chicken in the flour and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Add chicken to skillet and cook until browned, about 7 to 8 minutes.
  6. Add wine and scrape up browned bits as wine comes to a bubble.
  7. Cook the liquid down, 30 seconds to a minute.
  8. Combine half-and-half and mustard and pour the mixture over the chicken.
  9. Add grapes to the pan and shake to coat chicken and grapes in sauce.
  10. Reduce heat to low and simmer 3 to 5 minutes more.
  11. Meanwhile, bring chicken broth and a drizzle of olive oil to a boil.
  12. Add couscous.
  13. Remove pan from heat and cover.
  14. Let couscous sit 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork.
  15. Serve mounds of couscous with chicken and grapes alongside or over the top.

Source: [5]





Gremolata Steak with Cream Cheese Potatoes

24 09 2008

This is a good one!  And it’s my first time ever cooking steak.  It wasn’t perfect (as you can see, it’s not medium, but thankfully it was still very tender), but it was definitely delicious and anytime WF approves of a meal, I know it’s a winner.  This is the kind of meal that looks, sounds, and tastes gourmet but is so quick to make.  I mean literally, I think it took 25 minutes, tops.  I did have a little help from WF, but still, it was like one of Rachel Ray’s recipes without the crazy-6-hands-needed-for-this-recipe instructions.  Stay tuned for that adventure a little later this week!

I was so busy whipping it up, I didn’t take a ton of pictures.  I did however, make sure WF took a pic of the potatoes before he mashed them 🙂

From my cookbook I learned that gremolata is a traditional Italian flavor combo using lemon zest, garlic, and Italian parsley.  Those Italians know what they’re doing because I give this dish a big thumbs up!

Gremolata Steak with Cream Cheese Potatoes

Serves 2

Stuff you need:

Steak

  • 1 tsp.  olive oil
  • 1 boneless New York strip or ribeye steak, cut 3/4 in. thick (8 to 12 oz.)
  • salt and black pepper

Potatoes

  • 4 small red potatoes
  • 1 1/2 c. water
  • 2 Tbsp. cream cheese (see other info below for substitutions)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Gremolata Vinaigrette

  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, grated or minced
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 tsp. finely chopped Italian parsley
  • salt

What to do with that stuff:

Steak

  1. Add oil to skillet and heat over medium-high heat until shimmering.
  2. As pan heats, season both sides of steak with salt and black pepper.
  3. Place steak into skillet and reduce heat to medium.
  4. Cook undisturbed 3 to 4 minutes until until browned.
  5. Turn steak over and cook an additional 3 to 4 minutes (or until medium doneness – 155 degreesF).
  6. Remove from heat and transfer to plate.
  7. Tent with foil (temperature will rise to about 160 degreesF).

Potatoes

  1. As steak cooks, cut potatoes into quarters.
  2. Place potatoes and water in microwave safe dish, covered.
  3. Microwave on high for 8 to 10 minutes or until tender.
  4. Drain water.
  5. Add cheese and salt.
  6. Mash potatoes.

Vinaigrette

  1. As potatoes cook, wipe out skillet and add oil.
  2. Grate garlic into skillet.
  3. Heat over medium-low heat for 30 seconds or until garlic is fragrant (do not brown).
  4. Remove garlic mixture from heat and place in small bowl.
  5. Zest entire lemon.
  6. Juice lemon and measure 1 Tbsp. lemon juice.
  7. Add zest and juice to bowl with garlic mixture.
  8. Chop parsley  and add to bowl.
  9. Mix well and season to taste with salt.

To serve

  1. Cut steak in half and place one half onto each plate.
  2. Drizzle steak with vinaigrette and serve.

Other stuff you might want to know:

Substitutions

  • The originial recipe is for Mascarpone Potatoes.  I made the decision to substitute cream cheese because it calls for such a small amount.  I also need cream cheese later this week in a different recipe.  By all means, use mascarpone cheese if you like.

Source: [1]





Wedding Wednesday

24 09 2008

I don’t really have much to say about the wedding today.  I have gotten a lot done, I still have stuff to do, and I just want the day to be here!  I am very very excited but I am definitely one of those people who has a hard time waiting for exciting things to happen.  That’s probably one of the reasons WF and I have been engaged for exactly 4 months today.  And in 2 weeks, we’ll be married — YAY!

There are still things to iron out, like the fact that our DJ said he’d be in touch several weeks ago and I still haven’t heard from him.  Same with the caterer.  I’m trying not to freak out.  The bridesmaid dresses came in and from what I can tell from a few pictures, they are looking fabulous.  I can’t wait to post pics on here after the big day.  I just wish the big day were closer.

Onto another topic I have been seriously considering — I think I want to move from WordPress.com to a web host so that I can have a little more control over what I put on my pages.  This blog has gotten bigger than I ever imagined a lot faster than I thought possible.  So I want to have my own site like a lot of other blogs I love reading.

I’m just wondering what anyone knows about it — is it difficult to set up and maintain.  What about design and content?

Any ideas/comments would be helpful.  Look for another recipe post soon!





Pork Chops Royale, Revisited

23 09 2008

A few weeks ago I gave a family friend’s recipe a try.  It turned out so-so and the hardest part about it was knowing it wasn’t going to be very good while I was cooking.  The only positive was all the ideas I thought of to improve it the next time.  Unfortunately when it was time to go round 2 (meaning if we didn’t use the pork we’d be throwing precious dollars in the trash), I was sick.  Like really sick 😦  So WF valiantly stepped in to attempt the recipe.  In his own words this recipe is “better, but still not perfected”.

Downside to WF cooking: pictures are scarce.  I had to keep reminding him in between sniffles and coughs.

Pork Chops Royale, Revisited – as prepared by WF

Serves 2

Stuff you need:

  • 2 pork chops, 1 inch thick
  • juice of one lemon
  • 4 Tbsp. BBQ sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. light brown sugar
  • 1/2 small onion, sliced
  • 1 small yellow pepper, sliced

What to do with that stuff:

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Mix lemon juice, BBQ sauce, and brown sugar.
  3. Place chops in baking dish with lid (or cover tightly with aluminum foil).
  4. Baste pork chops liberally.
  5. Layer onion and pepper with chops.
  6. Bake, covered, for 45 minutes, basting liberally every 15 minutes.

Source: [FF]





Tuesdays with Reggie

23 09 2008

Reggie, Editor-in-Chief

Last night Reggie decided to be a very paws-on Editor-In-Chief.  He was on me about my deadline and decided the best way to make me finish was to watch my every move.  He’s relentless but I think we put out a pretty good product so I guess I should be thanking him.

And here’s Reggie at our first planning meeting (before we moved to SC).  As you can see, his desk is very messy, but don’t let that fool you.  Reggie is one tough cat.  He always get’s the job done.